Leren kinderen wel via een digitaal leerplatform? Ja, en zeker met deze 5 X 5 tips & tricks.

Note: this article describes my most recent publication, featuring tips & tricks for primary school teachers who are using Bingel (the leading learning platform created by Van In, the Belgian daughter of Sanoma Education), based on learning analytics and educational research. It was disseminated to 30.000 teachers, and is currently only available in Dutch.

Een digitaal leerplatform, werkt dat eigenlijk wel? En hoe pak ik dat als leerkracht het beste aan?


Om op deze vragen een antwoord te vinden, werkten Uitgeverij Van In en ikzelf de voorbije 2 jaar samen aan een project dat gesteund werd door het Vlaams agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen. Van In is met het leerplatform Bingel de absolute marktleider binnen het Vlaamse lager onderwijs. Maar liefst 80% van alle Vlaamse scholen gebruikt deze leeromgeving die een verlengstuk vormt van de leerboeken Frans, Wiskunde enz.

Samen schreven we een unieke whitepaper op basis van onderwijsonderzoek én learning analytics. Op die manier garanderen we dat de meest recente wetenschappelijke kennis verwerkt werd, maar dat ook inzichten uit de meer dan 500 miljoen oefeningen die kinderen op het platform maakten, geïntegreerd werden.

Benieuwd? Lees dan onze whitepaper met de 5 X 5 tips en tricks.
Er is ook een aparte whitepaper over Bingel geschreven.
De resultaten van het onderwijsonderzoek zullen later op deze website gepubliceerd worden.

Meer lezen van @drsmetty kan oa. via  http://be.linkedin.com/in/smetty of http://twitter.com/drsmetty


Hoger onderwijs in de digitale eeuw. Is de Uberification nabij?

Note: opinion on education issues in Flanders, only available in Dutch.

Vlaamse technologietoppers zoals Saskia Van Uffelen (CEO Ericsson BeLux en Digital Champion België) en Peter Hinssen dweilen het land rond met presentaties over de disruptie die we binnen het onderwijs mogen (of zouden moeten) verwachten. Maar hoe dicht staan we bij die Uberification van het onderwijs wat bijvoorbeeld blended learning betreft?

Twee ‘denkers’ (Georges Van der Perre en Jan Van Campenhout) – heren met grijze haren – schreven er in opdracht van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten een ‘standpunt’ (nr. 34)  over : ‘Hoger onderwijs voor de digitale eeuw‘. Eerder verscheen bij diezelfde KVAB al de zeer lezenswaardige uitgave (Standpunten nr. 33) ‘Higher education in the digital era. A thinking exercise in Flanders‘ op basis van het denkwerk van de Engelse professor Diana Laurillard en onze naar Zwitserland uitgewezen Waalse topwetenschapper Pierre Dillenbourg.

In het eerstgenoemde document zijn vooral de aanbevelingen aan het einde interessant. Wat vooraf gaat is helaas een beetje ‘rommelig’. Er wordt ook amper verwezen naar recent Vlaams onderzoek. Beetje jammer gezien het grote aantal doctoraten die de voorbije jaren over blended learning geschreven zijn aan de verschillende Vlaamse universiteiten. Soit.

De aanbevelingen van de denkers: Continue reading “Hoger onderwijs in de digitale eeuw. Is de Uberification nabij?”

Rethinking learning paths: test our ideas against Curatr software

Note: Please consider also reading the previous posts where I tackled the conceptual framework of learning paths and tested these ideas against the traditional LMS.

I was able to try out the Curatr MOOC software by HT2. They organised a free MOOC, explaining their vision on social learning. In addition all participants were offered the opportunity to create their own MOOC.

Can we compare learning paths within a traditional LMS with the learning steps within Curatr?


The screenshot above shows that we can compare learning paths within an LMS with the learning steps within Curatr (see the green line under each object).

Can we use software such as Curatr to benefit from the new learning path design you described in the previous post?


The software I’m looking for needs to help us in our effort to tackle the diverse student inflow, while Curatr is used by companies to train employees via social learning. So it wouldn’t be fair to compare both learning environments. However, I made the following remarks using Curatr:

  • The learning paths are still sequentially structured, but without the static designs and non-dynamic user-experiences we experienced in our LMS.
    Curatr – LMS: 1 – 0
  • The content is still structured by the teacher, the system unfortunately doesn’t allow students to add their own content.
    No extra points
  • In my experience, a big plus is the fact all learning objects can be discussed and receive likes at the object level. Adding annotations would make it even better.
    Curatr – LMS: 2 – 0
  • In addition, I found Curatr to be very easy to work with, as an administrator and as a student.
    Curatr – LMS: 3 – 0
  • The biggest advantage in favor of Curatr are their MOOC wranglers (or facilitators).
    Curatr – LMS: 4 – 0

I enjoyed playing with Curatr and was able to re-use the learning objects I created within my own teaching. And even better: I obtained my first CPD certificate of achievement. 

Rethinking learning paths: test our ideas against the traditional LMS

I’m working a on project where we want to offer our students online learning paths which are adapted to their needs and thus take into account the very diverse student inflow we encounter. In order to construct an answer on this challenge, I will write a few blog posts.

Note: Please consider also reading the previous post where I tackled the conceptual framework of learning paths (if you want the complete story).

Can we use the learning path tool in our current LMS, if we want to benefit from the new learning path design you described in the previous post?


Continue reading “Rethinking learning paths: test our ideas against the traditional LMS”

Rethinking learning paths: conceptual design

I’m working a on project where we want to offer our students online learning paths which are adapted to their needs and thus take into account the very diverse student inflow we encounter. Although I wrote this text with the previous objective in mind, it can be applied to other learning situations as well.

How ‘traditional learning paths’ work:


After a teacher creates and/or collects learning objects, he can start to bundle or sequence learning objects into learning paths. Most LMS (Learning Management Systems) only allow sequential learning paths, resulting in rather static designs and non-dynamic user-experiences. For example: if the teacher wants to leave room for discussion, a link to a separate tool can be added (e.g. a forum). Learners clicking on this  link will leave the learning path tool, and start/continue a discussion in a separate (discussion) tool. Such a work around doesn’t work on mobile and is not user-friendly, but hey, LMS are pre-year 2000 technology after all. Continue reading “Rethinking learning paths: conceptual design”

What are the biggest design challenges you faced? #OutstandingMOOC

I’m enrolled in a MOOC where we are encouraged to reflect upon questions such as: “What’s the biggest design challenge that you have ever faced? Did you overcome it? How? “

I have experience with design projects on two educational levels: secondary education and higher education. My experience with both levels is more or less the same: a design challenge is usually not the problem, the barriers on the teacher and the school level are much harder to overcome.

Secondary education

My most ambitious design challenge was undoubtedly the research I conducted in order to obtain my PhD. We developed a teacher survey to investigate the instructional use of LMS (Learning Management Systems) in secondary education. Based on these results, we designed learning paths and examined in two quasi-experimental studies whether gender, group composition (collaborative learning) and the way learning paths are designed and implemented, have an impact on learning outcomes. To complete the circle, my last study reported on teacher perceptions of learning path usage within the LMS.

In short (my complete dissertation can be downloaded here), we faced some design challenges, but those were rather easy to overcome. However, we also identified clear barriers at both the school and the teacher level, and they were out of my league. More specifically, the lack of a reliable and accessible ICT infrastructure, the unavailability to the teacher of qualitative technical and pedagogical support and the underinvestment in professional development (resulting in low levels of teacher related ICT competencies), were frequently reported as essential factors hindering ICT-usage in the classroom.

Higher education: Continue reading “What are the biggest design challenges you faced? #OutstandingMOOC”

Are blogs the best reflecting tool within a MOOC? #OutstandingMOOC

Last week I enrolled as a participant in the following MOOC (Massive Online Open Course): How to create an outstanding MOOC (more information). I didn’t plan to get involved in another MOOC, basically cause I’m short on time (well, who isn’t?). However, I changed my mind because the organiser isn’t Coursera this time, but HT2, the company behind the Curatr platform. And, best of all, all participants receive the opportunity to create their own MOOC within the Curatr platform.

One of the questions we need to reflect upon is “are blogs a great reflection tool?”.

My answer is Yes and No. Continue reading “Are blogs the best reflecting tool within a MOOC? #OutstandingMOOC”

Ouders en de elektronische leeromgeving

This article describes tips and tricks on how parents can benefit from the LMS (learning management platform) being used in their children’s school. Unfortunately, this article describes a Flemish LMS-product (Smartschool) and is only available in Dutch.

Een aangepaste versie van dit artikel werd eerder gepubliceerd op de AHA! website van Radio 2.

De meeste scholen in Vlaanderen gebruiken een elektronische leeromgeving (ELO), waarvan Smartschool de bekendste is. Deze ELO wordt gebruikt om het leerproces te ondersteunen, maar laat ook toe dat directie, leerkrachten, leerlingen en ouders online met elkaar kunnen communiceren. Continue reading “Ouders en de elektronische leeromgeving”

Ontwerp- en implementatiekenmerken van leerpaden binnen een Elektronische Leeromgeving

Deze paper, gepresenteerd tijdens de Onderwijs Research dagen, beschrijft de vier studies die werden uitgevoerd in het kader van mijn doctoraatsonderzoek naar de ontwerp- en implementatiekenmerken van leerpaden binnen een ELO (Elektronische Leeromgeving).

Please cite as: Cindy De Smet, Martin Valcke, Tammy Schellens & Bram De Wever. Design and implementation characteristics of learning paths in a learning management system. Onderwijs Research Dagen, June 2015, Leiden, Netherlands.